Caracas, September 16th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuela has been blocked by fellow member states in the MERCOSUR trade bloc from assuming the organisation’s six months rotating presidency, confirmed an official MERCOSUR declaration on Tuesday.
The communique followed months of deadlocked political negotiations within the bloc as well as uncertainty over its immediate future.
Venezuela was set to take over the presidency in July but met resistance from Brazil and Paraguay, later joined by Argentina, due to alleged human rights abuses against the political opposition in the country.
Tuesday’s declaration explicitly bars Venezuela from occupying the leadership role, and stipulates that members Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will now take over the temporary presidency together instead. The news came just a day after Organization of American States head, Luis Almagro, called for Venezuela’s expulsion from the body.
Caracas also now faces the possibility of a temporary suspension or relegation to allied member status in the organisation.
According to the statement, Venezuela will face further penalties if it fails to comply with around 300 of the bloc’s rules and regulations, including international legislation and trade treaties, before December 2016.
MERCOSUR says that the documentation has been outstanding since the South American country joined the bloc as a full member in 2012, when the majority of other member states were allies.
Since then market-friendly governments hostile to Caracas’ left-leaning Maduro administration and allied to the country’s opposition have been elected in Argentina and Paraguay, while an unelected conservative government took power earlier this year in Brazil.
Brazils’ de facto Temer administration has been a leading voice against Venezuela in MERCOSUR, prompting accusations that the charges against Venezuela are mostly political. So far, the organisation has also failed to respond to calls to sanction Brazil following what Latin American observers have called the unconstitutional transfer of power to the Temer government and a wave of repression against opposition to his administration.
Tuesday’s MERCOSUR consensus was made possible thanks to a reluctant change in stance from the government of Uruguay, which had initially blocked attempts to bar Venezuela’s presidency. Nonetheless it finally backed down to get behind Tuesday’s resolution in order to avoid an internal crisis within the organisation, said Uruguayan Deputy Foreign Minister Jose Luis Cancela.
“If Uruguay had opposed the declaration, Mercosur would have been in full paralysis” explained Cancela.
Nonetheless Venezuela has refused to acknowledge the bloc’s move, branding it politically motivated and undemocratic.
“Venezuela, in full exercise of the Pro-Tempore Presidency of Mercosur, and in protection of its treaties, rejects the Triple Alliance’s (Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay) declaration,” tweeted Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.
The Venezuelan FM also said that the declaration violated the organisation’s legal norms and commitment to taking decisions by consensus.
“It is an attempt to destroy MERCSOUR through illegal tricks and is a reflection of the political intolerance and desperation of bureaucrats,” she added.
Venezuela is currently experiencing an acute economic crisis marked by reduced foreign currency earnings and soaring inflation, as well as a standoff between its rightwing controlled legislative branch of government and the left-leaning executive.